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Hundreds of kids get free Christmas toys
Toys for Tots serves more than 2,500 children
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The United Way and the Toys-for-Tots program gave away toys to more than 2,500 children from Liberty and Long counties and Fort Stewart on Saturday at the Liberty County Performing Arts Center. - photo by Photo by Mike Riddle

For most children, Christmas is the best time of the year — a time when Santa piles presents under their decorated trees. For some families, though, that’s not always the case.
Parents who are in financial dire straits may spend the holidays wondering how they’ll fill their little ones’ empty stockings by the time Christmas morning rolls around.
Enter Toys for Tots.
The charitable program distributes gifts to children who otherwise might not find anything underneath the tree.
At Liberty County’s Performing Arts Center on Saturday, the United Way and Toys for Tots gave away toys and presents to 2,511 children in Liberty and Long counties and on Fort Stewart, according to Jennifer Darsey, local United Way director for the local United Way and Toys-for-Tots coordinator.
“This year, we are finding that we’re helping a lot of families who have been displaced or maybe evicted. They’re in desperate need and don’t have any way to provide toys for their kids,” she said.
Even though there were many families such as this who were helped this past weekend, Darsey also said that there are many who continue to struggle due to tough economic times.
“A lot of our families are just having hard times,” she said. “They are able to pay for groceries and pay the electric bill and pay for what they have to. But after they pay all of this, they just don’t have anything left to spend on toys.”
Darsey said that this year, thanks to donations to the United Way and the Toys-for-Tots campaign, the group was able to buy $30,000 dollars’ worth of toys. She also said there were more than 800 toys donated to the program.  Those toys were gathered from 73 area drop-off points. Children who benefited from the program range in ages from infancy to 18 years old.  But Darsey said that even though they helped a lot of kids on Saturday, she said that there still is a waiting list of 218 children who requested toys.
“We are hoping that we can provide for these children, too,” she said. “Most of our drop-off sites have stopped collecting toys, but we still can accept them at our United Way office.”
The office is at suite A of the Brantley Building, 135 E. M.L. King Jr. Drive in Hinesville.  For more information, call 368-4282.

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